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Barnes, DeEtte | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Barnes, DeEtte


Historical Note:

DeEtte Barnes, daughter of Stewart and Rena Barnes, attended Wheaton College from 1933-1937. Barnes also had a young brother, Charles, and a grandmother. During her student years she was actively involved in the Women’s Athletic Association (W.A.A.) running track as well as being a member of the Philalathean literary society whose motto was “From Possibility to Achievement.” DeEtte Barnes played other sports as well including soccer, basketball, swimming, and especially volleyball. She also participated in the German and Gun Clubs on campus.

Moving away from her childhood home in Auburn, New York, and leaving behind her beloved family was difficult for DeEtte. In her early letters home (part of the collection here at Wheaton) she speaks of her sadness at being away and even counts both the days until she goes home again on break and the miles away from home she is!  Although DeEtte pined for home and family, she became an active member of Wheaton society. Her early letters also speak of meeting new friends, attending challenging lectures on various fresh subjects (including the much-dreaded algebra), the clothes and styles on campus, and adjusting to the new life of the collegian. Initiations and rites were common; joining the Philalathean Society meant wearing an orange beanie everywhere except church!

Times were tough for many in the 30s, and the Barnes family was no exception. DeEtte’s letters often ask for financial assistance and chronicle the struggle of a young woman trying to make ends meet. Paying for rent, buying books, and staying enrolled were not easy – DeEtte soon joined the ranks of student workers. While at Wheaton, her family was forced to move away from New York to West Springfield, Pennsylvania halfway through her freshman year, which disappointed her. Sadly, during the last semester of her senior year, her father lost his position. In one of the final letters of our collection, DeEtte thanks her parents for the food sent to her but also admonishes them, telling them that they themselves must save food to eat for when her father is fired.







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